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A Journey to Vienna with David Adams

9 January 2020
A man in a black jacket plays violin.

David Adams, WNO’s Orchestra Leader and Concertmaster, is on the road with Mary Elizabeth Williams and the Orchestra taking audiences on a journey to Vienna. We caught up with David to learn more about him, the concerts and why you should start your New Year with a Viennese twist.

What made you choose the violin? I was extremely lucky that my father was a viola player in the Hallé Orchestra, so I don’t think the violin was really a choice, it was just that I wanted to copy him. However, I have always loved the sound of the violin almost regardless of the music, I just really enjoy pulling the bow across the strings.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited with WNO Orchestra? We have been lucky enough to have been to some very interesting places over the last few years, Finland, Hong Kong, Dubai, Oman and Morocco. I love visiting these fascinating places and we’ve been made very welcome wherever we’ve been, especially in Morocco before Christmas. One aspect that makes touring fun for us is meeting a new audience and playing in a new theatre or hall. This can give the performances a new energy and vitality which we try to recreate wherever we go.

What would you say to convince someone to try out an orchestral concert for the first time? Going to a performance holds something different for every person. The one thing in common with any concert or live performance is that it is always about letting your hair down, and allowing the music to control your emotions, not trying to fit in with some imaginary etiquette. Clap when you feel like it, cry when you feel like it, perhaps don’t talk, but only so that you can listen like mad because every performance is unique and you won’t hear it again.

What are your responsibilities as Concertmaster? A self-drive concert works in a different way from a concert with a conductor. I have a lot of responsibility as Concertmaster; learning the scores and setting the main tempos, but taking away the conductor gives all the players more responsibility. There are often tempo changes and playing with expressive freedom (rubato) in this music. In order for this to work without a conductor, the whole group has to understand these moments in a much more in depth way, we can’t just follow what we see in the score. We have to be able to react even more quickly and listen more intently to each other for us to be able to move together and shape the music in the same way. The Orchestra is made up of wonderful musicians with finely honed instincts and these concerts are a chance for us to enjoy each other’s qualities in a very particular way.

What’s your favourite part of the concert? My favourite piece is probably Morgen by Strauss. The best moments are when the orchestra has a moment of rubato which seems to happen by magic. However, I feel the most relief when the audience laugh at the terrible jokes.

What should the audience look out for? The audience should look out for the interaction between the players. It is an especially lively environment on stage without a conductor. WNO's A Journey to Vienna concert tour is dedicated to the memory of Martin Furber.